A feral cat is an outcast outdoor cat that either has no physical interaction with humans or has had so little contact with humans over a longer duration than the feline’s no longer used to it. Because most wild cats avoid human contact, it is unlikely that they will ever learn to tolerate or even like living indoors.
Domestic cats, lost or abandoned, often become feral after being cast out into the wild to fend for themselves. In addition, the kittens born to domestic cats rarely get handled by humans, which causes them to develop a fear of them.
A domestic cat can develop feral-like traits if it is neglected, abandoned, or even abused; but a cat that has been domesticated and socialized can never entirely revert to its wild state. Depending on the circumstances, they end out on the streets, where they may or may not develop characteristics of wild animals.
This is a positive development since it increases the likelihood that cats abandoned, mistreated, or abandoned completely will one day be adopted into happy, healthy families. However, if they were raised with people from an early age and taught how to coexist with humans, they would rapidly return to a domesticated state when they are older.
They are accustomed to guarding themselves rather than will defend themselves with their claws or teeth, even in the face of very mild provocation. Therefore, it is vital to exercise extreme caution if you get close to a cat outside on the street.
What Causes a Cat to Become Feral?
Because it has had no positive experiences with people during socialization, a domestic cat is referred to as a wild cat; as a rule, they’ve never shared a residence with anyone else. However, because they are usually born to feral cats or stray cats, they are acclimated to surviving for themselves in the wide-open spaces.
You’re more than likely to encounter a stray or feral cat at a certain point in life if you live in an urban area. But, irrespective of whether you see stray and feral cats in your yard, outside the park where your firm is operating, or while traveling abroad, misconceptions persist.
Feral cats may quiver and flee when they detect danger, but if they are trapped, they may become aggressive and try to fight. Experts advise against keeping feral cats as pets since they are unlikely to adapt to living indoors and being fed by someone else.
Despite this, kittens delivered to feral cats can be socialized with people at any time throughout the period allowed for this purpose and introduced to people. Because of this, these stray cats are good candidates to be placed with families.
Please stay away from a healthy wild cat since it will be happy to be outside and able to take care of itself without your help. However, if a stray cat is friendly, a veterinarian scan for a microchip is highly suggested by regular caregivers. The caretaker should do this whenever they come across a friendly stray cat.
Can Domesticated Cats Turn Feral?
A stray cat may have been socialized to the point that she’ll let people pet her, but if she goes too long without having positive interactions with humans, she’ll either become less socialized or even become a wild cat. When a stray cat has less and less interaction with people, she runs the risk of turning into a wild animal.
A stray cat has the potential to reclaim its role as a beloved family pet if certain conditions are met. Stray cats living outside and then brought into an indoor household may need some time to reacclimate; after spending time away from people in the wild, they may be fearful of humans and take some time to warm up to their new environment.
Because adult wild cats have not been acclimated to people, it is impossible to adopt them into homes with indoor environments. Because of this, they have a high risk of being put down if captured by animal services or taken to kennels, which is why it is in its best long-term interest to live outside.
They may display signals of friendliness, such as a back foot or hanging around on a caregiver’s porch, but these behaviors are typically limited to the cat’s connection with the caregivers and only develop after establishing a relationship with the caregiver over an extended period.
How Do You Know If a Cat Is Feral?
- To be sure that a cat isn’t a feral one, it needs to meow at you. Because domesticated cats have learned that humans react to vocal cues, feral cats need not meow; instead, domesticated cats only meow when they engage with humans. A meowing cat is a stray or a cat with such a permanent home.
- A stray cat is most likely to appear on your doorstep if it is filthy and unkempt. A stray cat is likely to ignore its cleanliness due to the stress of being lost or abandoned. When a feral cat is left alone, it will keep its coat, even if it will appear harsher than a domesticated cat’s coat.
- If a cat flees when you approach, it’s possible that it isn’t feral. A stray may have been mistreated because he’s terrified of humans. You may learn a lot about a cat’s personality by how it responds to your presence. A stray is likely to start to unwind. If it feels endangered, a feral cat will attack.
- At night, you’re more likely to spot a feral cat than a tame one. A stray or an outside cat with a home is more prone to be seen during the day. Because they are nocturnal, strays and housecats are more involved during dawn and dusk.
- In the wild, vast herds of feral cats congregate. Cats are social creatures, and the colony now provides the socialization that a domesticated cat would have received from people. Even though they share a home and a hunting ground, they do not go out hunting as a group.
How Long Does It Take a Cat to Turn Feral?
Feral qualities, such as dread of change or strangers, are more likely to persist in a kitten after four months. It may take years for an adult feral cat to become socialized, if at all.
Only kittens who have never been exposed to humans can become feral; domestic cats do not become feral after they have been domesticated. Cats left to their own devices without fear of humans don’t go through this stage of development.
Some cats will have a hard time with this, but most of them will eventually get used to it. Then, they’ll start hunting for food on their own and develop the skills necessary to survive in the wild.
Many cats are perfectly content to visit a different human compared to feral cats versus domestic cats in the same environment, which makes a difference.
Feral cats are most seen in environments devoid of humans, either because they were abandoned as kittens or born in such an environment. Otherwise, domestic cats rarely become feral after being separated from their humans.
For the most part, cats are adaptable and will hunt on their own, yet they will remain close to their human owners. So even if their living situation changes, this will continue to be part of their perspective.
How Can I Stop My Cat From Being Feral?
- If feasible, you should let the cat come up to you first. If she is hesitant to approach you but appears to be interested in what you say, you can try providing a small mouthful of canned tuna or cat food to your feline pet while you chat to the pet; this might encourage the feline pet to come over to you.
- They enjoy having options. Provide the cat with climbing alternatives inside its cage and a play space that the feline can utilize however the cat sees fit.
- After the furry pets had some time to calm down, you shouldn’t keep the cat tucked away in a quiet room for too long. Instead, it would help if you gave the cat some time to become accustomed to the environment in which the cat will be handled.
- If you want to avoid the cat feeling intimidated from above, you should handle the cat while she is seated at a table or on another elevated surface.
- Take care not to let the feline out of the container on their backs. The cat is confused and may react defensively since it is not sure what is happening. You might try bringing the cat out of the bottom of the carrier first or using a top-loading sling so that she can keep the cat focused on what is familiar.
- Please do not allow the cat to engage in an elaborate game of hiding and seek in which she plays only one; instead, engage with the cat daily, preferably between once and twice.
- Clean the cat using your hand carefully and deliberately. It’s possible that the cat’s too embarrassed or scared to clean itself.